Andi Winter

Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Page 2 of 8

Face palm

Man with head buried in hand

This says it all

So it’s been two months since the surgery, and I expected that I’d get behind some with the writing, but I figured it would pick back up as I felt better.

I didn’t expect that I’d fall this far behind.

Between life, a mini-vacation (which was lovely), and, well, life, I lost track of where exactly I was with the writing and publishing. In fact, I got so lost that I floundered, to the point that the creativity spark fizzled and went kaput.

Insert freaking out about “I’ve lost that creative feeling”* and desperate attempts at recovering my creativity. Because OMG I MIGHT NEVER WRITE AGAIN.

Yes, well.

So I went back to basics. I started writing morning pages** again. I read books about creativity. I wrapped myself in guilty pleasures (you know, the usual: Jane Austen, vampire and/or werewolf romance books, historical scifi-fantasy-romance TV, kid action-adventure novels, space operas, ). I reminded myself that healing takes the time it takes, and that whenever I have tried to force something to happen, the results were Never Good.

Essentially, I journaled, I read, I immersed myself in fun, silly entertainment.

Then I saw a post by Dean Wesley Smith about his process of finding story titles and then writing the story. I gave it a shot, and just finished a 3,200 word story.

Then I saw a post by Chuck Wendig with another flash fiction challenge to write a story mashing up two randomly chosen genres***, and I got started on another story.

With a little momentum behind me, I went back to the publishing and tried to figure out where I left off. Oh right, review the websites with the book and make sure everything looked okay. Which it should, since I have been over this book a zillion times by now.

On the preview, IN THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THE FIRST STORY, right there in front of me, was a spelling error.

On the freaking preview.

<face palm>

So back to the ebook mines. I fixed the problem, finding other minor problems as well, and then uploaded the corrected files. And now I wait for the sites to process and approve them. Which means more time to wait.

It’s progress, I think. Just very very slow, 2 steps-forward-1-step-back progress (i.e. the new normal).

Hopefully this just means a week or so delay, and then I can post links to the book and get on with my publishing life.

Ugh.

 

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*It’s funnier to me if I say it to the tune of “You’ve lost that loving feeling”.

**See Julia Cameron’s classic “The Artist’s Way” for more info.

***I <3 these challenges. They are brilliantly inspirational.

Getting close

swimming to the wall

Just. A. Little. Further.

I’ve finished the print and digital versions for my flash fiction collection (at last!), and am now in the home stretch. Accounts are set up with digital (and print) purveyors, so it should* just be a matter of getting the files uploaded and hitting “Publish!”

This has been so long in the making that I can’t even say. The good news is that while the learning curve for indie publishing has been nearly vertical, with any luck future books shouldn’t** take nearly as long to get out into the world. Why? Because I’ve learned a whole slew of skills:

  • interior book layout and design
    • front matter
    • back matter
    • pagination
    • headers and footers
    • readable and embedded and copyright-free fonts
  • cover creation
    • definition of “royalty-free” and why you should pay for it
    • writing jacket copy
    • pricing
    • ISBN and BISAC
  • formatting a book for print
  • formatting a book for digital consumption (epub and mobi formats)
  • contracts and net royalty calculators
  • which companies are worth dealing with

And that doesn’t even get into the hours spent learning the page layout software and creating the book template, learning the image manipulation software, learning the e-book editing software, learning the e-book conversion software, and studying how others have indie published good-looking books.

There is definitely something to be said for paying a professional; at the same time, I think it’s invaluable to have a functional knowledge of how these things work, even if I end up hiring professionals in the future.

Hmmm. That might also apply to other life situations, come to think of it.

 

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*”Should”. There I went and jinxed myself. Because I think that this process will only take another week at the most, it will most likely take another three months. Wait for it.

**Doh! I went and did it again. Argh.

Sometimes things turn out okay

cat with flower

Wait. What?

I went in for my post-op follow-up and was told that everything looks good. Even better? I can eat real food again! So no more relying on soups, applesauce, and other soft foods. This means pizza and crusty bread and chips and all that good stuff. Woo hoo! I just still have to be careful with the roof of my mouth, which hasn’t quite finished healing yet (but so close).

Now, to start easing back into “normal” life and moving forward with my projects. I’ve got a book (or two) to publish!

The joys of not talking

silent monkey

Silence really is golden

I was not aware that a gum graft might require not talking. For a week.

For a full week, I didn’t talk at work* or at home. I attended meetings, but could only communicate by writing my comments down and having a co-worker read them. I visited friends and enjoyed their company, but couldn’t say anything. Why?

The location of the graft is such that when everything was swollen, I couldn’t talk without it a) causing pain, and b) pulling the stitches and causing bleeding. In my attempts to not talk, but to communicate, I thought facial expressions would work. Not so much. Certain contortions of my lower lip and jaw pulled on the stitches which caused more pain, and because it happened so fast, I couldn’t deduce exactly what expression or movement was the culprit. All of which meant trying to not talk AND keep a straight face when interacting with people. Not an easy thing! If anything, it convinced me that I really do need to work on my poker face.

The funny thing was the people who tried to talk with me, and then felt like they couldn’t speak either. Or the people who understood that I couldn’t talk but still asked me questions that involved more detailed answers than “Yes or No.” Although I did appreciate their attempts, since it made me feel like less of a social pariah.

Thankfully, the swelling has decreased, and I can talk again, although I still have some trouble with labial consonants** (so no F’s, V’s, B’s, or P’s). It was a relief to be able to talk, and at the same time, kind of a disappointment. I started to like and appreciate not being able to talk because there is a joy in silence. A number of them, actually.

So here they are: The Joys of Not Talking.

  • It made me realize how much pointless chatter I do everyday.
  • It quieted my mind some.
  • It freed me from some socially obligatory conversations that don’t accomplish anything, and always feel awkward trying to end.
  • It allowed me to do focused work because people knew I couldn’t talk, so they didn’t drop by to ask questions*** or chat.
  • It meant that I had to condense my thoughts into short, simple sentences that I could jot down quickly.
  • It felt restful.

I am glad to be able to talk again (really!), but I am also glad that I had the experience of not being able to talk. Very educational.

 

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*I had to make and wear a sticker that said, “Sorry, I can’t talk. Doctor’s orders.” because people seemed to think I was avoiding them or being rude by not returning their “Good morning!” greetings.

**One of my favorite classes in college was linguistics, and I could have sworn these sounds were “fricatives,” but alas, they are indeed labial consonants. But “fricative” just sounds better. Go ahead and say it. “Fricative.”

***Well, except for one supervisor. The good news was that normally the drop-by would have lasted 45 minutes, and not the 5 that this one did.

On overestimating one’s abilities

How I'm feeling -- sleepy

How I’m feeling

I guess I’m a more optimistic person than I realized. For some reason, I thought that I really could Do It All: write everyday for Writing Practice Month, have oral surgery, keep a clean house, continue making progress on the indie publishing. Sure, I figured I would probably move a little slower than my standard Mach 3, but it wouldn’t make that much of a difference.

Ha.

Ha ha ha.

Yeah, I’m pretty funny*. Instead, what happened was that my body (and I think my mind, and perhaps my soul) said, “You know what? We’ve been running so hard for so long now, doing everything you’ve demanded of us, and now you go and get yourself cut up? Well, fine. Then we are going on strike! We need a vacation, and it’s not like you have a choice in the matter. So there!”

Whatever motivation I had for my projects, and even just general Life Maintenance, went soaring out the window and landed with an audible thud on the pavement. There was even a large splat of good intentions smeared into the sidewalk cracks.

Everything inside of me just cries for rest. Apparently “rest” takes the form of naps, chick flick viewing, chick lit reading, and the occasional mosey in fresh air. Multi-tasking? Forget about it. The closest I get to that is eating** soup*** while watching TV.

So I’m getting the message from the universe: Take it slow and easy. One day at a time. And it’s okay to have ambitions, but just work on them in little bits. Think “marathon,” not “sprint”.

I don’t know how many times I have seen those written down, but it certainly feels like they are starting to wear into my bones.

 

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*If by “funny” I mean “grossly overambitious” or perhaps “deluded”.

**Does one “eat” soup? Isn’t it more like “drinking”? Or is it more a matter of the soup’s thickness? Say, with a thick potato soup or split pea soup, those I think take some effort, so you eat them. Thinner soups or consommes, where it’s easier to consume it by tipping the bowl into your mouth should be a matter of drinking. But what about chicken noodle soup, or ramen, where you’re half and half—you eat the noodles, but drink the liquid. See? This is just another example of my brain being on strike.

**Fun fact: Your body wants a variety of textures when dining. I will just say that eating soft mushy foods for a week gets incredibly boring. God, I miss pizza. And chips.

Lessons from a gum graft

Day 7

So I had gum graft surgery, and life is returning to a new normal. This means eating foods from a blender, trying not to make any facial expressions, and not talking. I hadn’t realized how much I talked until I couldn’t.

Some things I’ve learned as a result of the surgery:

  1. Don’t think and/or worry about things you cannot control.
  2. It’s okay to let others take care of you and help out.
  3. Just focusing on this moment is a Fine Thing.
  4. The blender is a blessed tool. And is not just for frozen mixed drinks.
  5. Sometimes you just need to take the day off and do nothing. And that’s okay.

As for writing, I did my fifteen minutes today, not expecting much to come of it. However, I got some ideas for a creativity project which I can use, so I’ll call that good.

As with everything it seems, it’s all about small moves. Very small moves.

And so it begins

Day 6

Tomorrow I go under the dentist knife (literally), which I’ve been dreading for years. Well, time to put on the big girl panties and do the Adulting thing, which I’ve come to understand as “things you do so life doesn’t suck even worse in the future”.  Things like retirement accounts, house repairs, and now gum grafts. Meh.

Spent my fifteen minutes of writing time going over what I’ve written so far with this new story, and found a number of Easter Eggs*, which has me tingly with excitement**. You would think that I would remember what I had written (it’s only been a week), but I seem to only recall the Big Things like major plot points, and not the nifty details that create the World and assorted Conflicts. So yeah, found some nifty stuff that I’m pretty pleased about.

As for the daily Writing Practice Month challenge, well, at this point I’m not even planning to try to write over the next few days. With any luck***, I’ll be back at the writing table next week.

 

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*Like the “Easter eggs” in DVDs or video games—hidden cool things that the creators put in that you hunt for. Only in this case, Muse has kindly dropped them for me to find. Muse is awesome.

**Or maybe that’s the surgery anticipation.

***Luck = minimal lingering pain. My fingers are crossed!

Even littler steps

Day 5

Got ten minutes of writing in, which is a fine thing given the chaos that was today. Tomorrow looks like it should be a bit calmer, thankfully.

On the book recommendation side, the graphic novel Rolling Blackouts by Sarah Glidden is a fascinating look at one person’s experience in Turkey, Syria, and Iraq in 2010, as she traveled with independent journalist friends interviewing Iraqi refugees.

Time to get some sleep.

Little steps

Day 4

Got the fifteen minutes in and 359 words. Nothing exciting, but felt a little like playing, which is a good thing. It’s also a decent distraction from the upcoming Dental Havoc (a nice bonus). I’m doing what I can to stay in the moment (“How am I feeling right now?” “Can I focus on what’s in front of me, and not think about the upcoming potential Heaping Helpings of Pain?”), and performing multiple recitations of the Bene Gesserit litany against fear:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Okay, so it’s a bit dramatic, but it feels reassuring to say.

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways

Day 3

I had (mild) intentions of getting fifteen minutes of writing in yesterday (3/4), but housework and socializing were higher priorities. That, and resting and watching more 1990’s comedies (that Dharma is such a sweetheart!). What was it the immoderate Greeks said about moderation*?

Anyway, I’ve been frustrated at the slowness of writing the past few days, and realized part of that was due to 1) writing by hand and 2) constantly doubting myself and overthinking**. If the new ways aren’t working, maybe it’s time to try the old ways. So I sat down for 15 minutes with Writemonkey*** with a 250 word goal and started writing. I came up for air after 25 minutes and discovered that I had written 648 words. Much better! Now I have something to work with, and I wrote at a reasonable enough pace that the words aren’t a complete crazy jumbled mess (i.e. shouldn’t require editing). Hurrah!

Which brings us back to the concept of using whatever works. The key being: it has to work.

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*”Everything in moderation.” I’m not sure which Greek said it, though.

**And this due to trying Dean Wesley Smith’s recommended “pantsing with class” writing method (he calls it “Writing into the Dark”), where you write without a premade outline and write the first draft like it’s the only draft—none of this “fix it in post/rewrite it later” nonsense. At the same time, he recommends not seeing one’s words as precious, and to keep practicing. So yeah, I was perhaps fretting too much about my words being good enough for a final draft.

***I really loves me the Writemonkey. <3

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